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The family and lawyer of activist Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom, who died on 14 May following a long hunger strike to demand judicial reform and the release of political prisoners, have raised questions about the credibility of Netiporn’s medical records obtained from the Corrections Hospital after several discrepancies were noted.

Krisadang Nutcharus speaking to reporters at the Criminal Court on 21 May after filing documents notifying the court of Netiporn's death in relation to a defamation lawsuit filed against her by Pol Gen Sereepisut Temeeyaves, leader of the Thai Liberal Party. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Lawyer Krisadang Nutcharus said on Tuesday (21 May) that the time at which resuscitation began after Netiporn suffered cardiac arrest was inconsistent between different documents the Corrections Hospital released to the family. Netiporn’s medical records from 14 May and the referral document said that she began having spasms and became unresponsive at 6.15. CPR then began at 6.23. However, the resuscitation record said that CPR began at 6.28.

The record said that Netiporn was moved from the Corrections Hospital’s second-floor ward to its intensive care unit (ICU) on the first floor by prison volunteers. However, there is no record that a vital sign monitor was used between 6.15 – 6.28.

The resuscitation form said that a chest x-ray was performed on Netiporn, but did not say when it was performed. It also said that a brain CT scan was performed at 7.28, and that CPR continued to be performed. At 8.00, the Director of the Corrections Hospital came to examine Netiporn and ordered the hospital’s personnel to contact Thammasat University Hospital for a transfer. Netiporn had no vital signs while at the Corrections Hospital.

Krisadang noted, however, that the time between these examinations and the time Netiporn was brought back to the ward was inconsistent in the different documents. The family was also not given the results of the examinations or the x-ray film. Netiporn’s discharge summary document also said that she had Refeeding Syndrome, a condition caused by a severe shift in electrolytes when a person who is malnourished begins feeding again.

Krisadang said that Netiporn’s family is questioning the discrepancies in her medical records because the time that CPR began was inconsistent and there is no record of her vital signs from when she became unconscious. The family is asking why she was sent for a CT scan while CPR is still being performed, since it would mean that CPR is interrupted. They also want to know when the Corrections Hospital diagnosed Netiporn with Refeeding Syndrome, since it is a severe condition requiring constant care.

The family is now asking that the Corrections Hospital release additional documents to them, including Netiporn’s chest x-ray film, the result of her CT scan, a record of the food the hospital had been giving her, all of her blood test results, and her entire medical records since 14 April.

Netiporn was pronounced dead at 11.22 on 14 May after suffering a cardiac arrest while she was on a hunger strike to call for judicial system reform and the release of political dissidents. Her death certificate said that she died from heart failure and asphyxiation, while her autopsy concluded that her cause of death was acute heart failure, electrolyte imbalance, and cardiomegaly (enlarged heart).

The 28-year-old activist had been held in pre-trial detention on a royal defamation charge since her bail was revoked on 26 January and had been on a hunger strike since 27 January.

Medical records from Thammasat University Hospital, where Netiporn was transferred and later pronounced dead, said that she had no vital signs when she arrived and that an endotracheal tube had been misplaced in her oesophagus instead of her windpipe.

Soon after her death, Netiporn’s family requested her medical records and the CCTV footage of the ward from the Corrections Hospital. The request was initially denied after officials claimed that her sister could not grant the power of attorney to her lawyer to obtain the record and that only her parents could do so.

While Netiporn’s medical record was released to her lawyer on Monday (20 May), the Corrections Hospital has not released the CCTV footage.

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